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KANGAS: An East African garment for women

A kanga is a large cotton cloth worn by women along the whole of the East African coast, especially in Kenya, Tanzania and the island of Zanzibar. Its characteristic feature is the short text printed on the cloth. Kangas are also worn by some women in Oman, due to long standing, historical connections between the various countries.

Kangas and similar garments have been part of the East African, Swahili dress code since the late 19th century. There they are still regarded as an essential item of a woman’s wardrobe. They are worn on a daily basis in and around the home, as well as for important occasions such as weddings and funerals. But their designs, colours and texts are not static. They are constantly being modified and adapted to the current political and economic situation and customer demands. Throughout the decades kangas have adopted textual and decorative elements from African, Arab, Indian and European sources. As a result, modern kangas reflect the international nature of Swahili culture.

Date of the exhibition: 3rd November 2009 - 28th February 2010. Location: TRC Gallery, Hogewoerd 164, 2311 HW Leiden Open: Monday - Wednesday 09.00 - 16.00 hrs, or upon appointment Tel. 071-5134144 or 06-28830428.

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Hogewoerd 164
2311 HW Leiden.
Tel. +31 (0)71 5134144 /
+31 (0)6 28830428  

The TRC is open again from Tuesday, 2nd June, but by appointment only.

Bank account number:
NL39 INGB 0002 9823 59,
Stichting Textile Research Centre

TRC Gallery exhibition:
5 Febr. -27 August 2020: American Quilts

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The TRC is dependent on project support and individual donations. All of our work is being carried out by volunteers. To support the TRC activities, we therefore welcome your financial assistance: donations can be transferred to bank account number NL39 INGB 000 298 2359, in the name of the Stichting Textile Research Centre.
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